Not long ago I had the opportunity to visit a place that quickly became a very special place to me and, I think, a very nice weedist destination. It’s a great place to get baked and appreciate your cog in the wheel of existence.
The place is about ninety minutes south of Seattle, tucked back in the fringe forests surrounding Mount Rainier’s base. It is called Wolfhaven International and, as the name insinuates, it is a sanctuary for wolves. This is not a zoo or a roadside attraction, it’s a sanctuary, meaning that the wolves are not there to entertain, though they often do. However, you may also go long stretches of time without seeing a wolf.
There are two designations of wolves at Wolfhaven. There are the wolves you get to see as part of the guided tour, they are kept in pairs of two in large enclosures (they are only paired with another wolf when they exhibit acceptance and friendship toward said wolf); they are well fed and treated very kindly by their stewards. This sect of wolves are not good candidates for reintroduction to the wild. They are mainly pets that people couldn’t handle or wolves that arrived injured and were too accustomed to humans by the time they were well enough to leave.
There are, however, a few wolves who were rescued from roadside attractions and dire circumstances. While wild wolves are the aim of Wolfhaven, they also care for approximately 50 wolves who will live their lives out in captivity as they would not survive in the wild. In fact, the wolves who live out their lives at Wolfhaven tend to out live their wild brethren by about 10 years. It’s brutal in the wild. A wolf is only successful 1 out of every 10 hunting attempts.
The other type of wolf at Wolfhaven are wolves who are good candidates for release into the wild. They are kept in a very large enclosure that is basically just wild forest where they can learn to hone their instincts. The caretakers rarely interact with these wolves and when they do, they sound air horns and make themselves noisy and frightening. It may seem cruel, but its aim is keep these wild wolves healthily afraid of people so they will keep their distance.
It was very interesting to learn about these fascinating creatures and when you stare into the eyes of a wolf and she is staring right back at you, you can sense a spirit and an intelligence that goes beyond the domesticated dog. There are only fifty wild wolves in all of Washington state. Hunters, land loss and lack of federal intervention have decimated wolf populations.
Just recently, WA state approved and funded the helicopter assassination of the Alpha female of a the Huckleberry pack of wolves. She was killed because a farmer complained that the pack was threatening his sheep. Killing the Alpha devastates the pack, and she had several puppies to boot. They will likely scatter, potentially leaving the young to fend for themselves. The kicker is that there are many non-lethal ways to mitigate livestock predation, none of which were employed prior to executing the Alpha.
A strong predator population, like a strong pollinator population, is crucial to a healthy ecosystem. Wolves at one point were completely driven out of Yellowstone national park. With no natural predators to maintain elk herds, the elk grew to such a number that the rivers nearly dried out and the vegetation started to change into a desert because the elk were eating everything in sight. Wolves were recently reintroduced to Yellowstone and within a short time, the elk population was under control, the rivers once again surged and the vegetation reclaimed its stake.
For the good of yourself and the good of the planet, smoke a joint, peer into the eyes of a wolf, and try to see your place in the bigger picture. Cannabis has always engendered in me a sense of oneness and unity with the myriad of organisms that populate our Earth. I felt that connection acutely while visiting Wolfhaven. If you’re in Washington and have the chance to visit, it’s well worth it.